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Creative People: Sonia Singh and the Tree Change Dolls

I have been so impressed by Sonia Singh’s Tree Change Dolls (see the video below) –

I especially loved the looks on the girl’s faces as they held and played with their dolls. One of the girls said, “They kind of look like they’re the same age as you,” and you could see that in their play. I think that the innocence of childhood is so beautiful and should be protected and nurtured. While I do prepare my children for the world that they live in, I am very careful in the way that I prepare them. I have had a very hard time choosing dolls for them and the girls and I have gone the rounds about which toys I’ll buy. In fact, I fell in love with Fanny, by Hollie Hobbie for that very reason, (see this post on my book review).

Sonia talked about the fact that her intention wasn’t to make a statement about the sexualization of girl’s toys, but as her work has become viral, it has created a debate and I believe that part of that is, as her husband said, “They really look lovely this way.” It’s true. There is a sweetness to the dolls. And, it does reflect a choice that the toy manufacturers are making. Based on at least some of the debate (and many of the mothers out there) it seems that a lot more people would also like to have dolls that are sweet and simple. I do love American Girl Dolls for that reason, but they are quite expensive, and this is a great way to save the expense, create, and teach some valuable lessons all at once.

It’s clear that Sonia’s main purpose was to make a statement about upcycling and reusing (as evidenced in her own words, but also in the name that she chose for the company). I am struck by the message that she has given both about choice and about creativity. Knowing that she can’t become a doll manufacturer on the scale of a toy company, she runs an etsy store and has created some videos encouraging others to create their own dolls. On her tumbler site, she encourages others to create saying,

I encourage others to recycle and upcylce old dolls and toys. Do it yourself, do it with friends, do it with children and others in your family, do it with strangers. There are so many plastic dolls already made that could still be played with and could inspire the creative minds of children with a little attention and creativity.

She also points others to some Do It Yourself videos on how to do a doll “makeunder”. The first is on how to remove the paint and change the face of the dolls –

and then she has one on what to do about missing feet and/or shoes, that one uses chemicals and is not recommended for children, but is interesting to watch –

I am so edified by this! I sometimes forget that I still have a choice and can fix the things that I don’t like in the world. We can change our clothes, toys, media, etc. and create things that are uplifting and wholesome in the world around us. Thank you Sonia for such a brilliant idea and for encouraging others to create as well!

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Paper Doll Palooza and Interview with Creator Cory Jensen

Sof with paperdolls

When I was in kindergarten, I got the chicken pox and was home on the couch for a week.  (Now, thankfully, my children will never Golflex fashion 1920know that “joy” due to the chicken pox vaccine, but I digress.)  My grandma and mom tried to help cheer me up and pass the time by making homemade paper dolls.  They tried to make the magazines of the day work , but the images were not like those of yesteryear.  When they were young, the girls in the magazines could be cut out and homemade paper dolls created because the pictures and drawings were roughly the same size and it was easy to make them fit together (see the advertisement for goldflex frocks).  Though we couldn’t make it work with the 1980’s magazines, that memory was the catalyst for my fascination with paper dolls.  On my sick bed, I imagined the gorgeous styles, clothes, and scenery and how I would play with them.

Fast forward to the computer age and my own children.  It is so easy to find beautiful paper dolls online that talented artists have created to be shared.  As we were searching, we came across some of the most beautiful images that I have seen.  My daughter went CRAZY!!!

I mean look at these:

Cory Jensen - Aladdin1

Cory Jensen - Aladdin2

GORGEOUS! Right?

An artist named Cory Jensen has a facebook page dedicated to paper dolls that he’s created.  He takes no money for them (as they are fan-based), but I think that it is a wonderful way to build a resume – and I’m sure that with his amazing talents, he will go far!

I contacted Cory in order to write this post and he was so willing to share some information about his creations and talent.  He modestly said that he didn’t have any professional training and wasn’t a professional artist, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that he is a talented artist nonetheless.

1. How long have you been an artist?

I have been interested in art my whole life and I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil! So minus the 2 years where I could only scribble, I would say I’ve been an artist for 20 years!

2. Where did you get your training?

As I said, I have never had any actual training or schooling in art…yet. Although, I would like to attend an art school in the near future. I never even took art classes in high school, which I do regret. I watched all the Disney classics when I was a kid and I was in awe of how the drawings literally came to came to life on the screen! So even without realizing it, from a young age I was studying these movies and learning the basics of art. Obviously, Disney movies have remained a big part of my life and I continue to study them as well as the work of countless artists. So, I wouldn’t say I am self-taught, but taught by hundreds.

3. Do you do “Paper Dolls, by Cory” for a living, or for fun?

As of right now “Paper Dolls by Cory” is something I do for fun. I started making these “retro” style paper dolls several years ago and posting them on my DeviantArt page. People seemed to like them and I liked making them so I started “Paper Dolls by Cory” to reach more people. I would like to make a living of making these paper dolls but because most of the dolls I make are of copyrighted characters I don’t feel comfortable selling them. I would, however, like to create original paper dolls and sell those in the future. But for now, knowing that people enjoy my work is enough for me!

4. Are your paper dolls hand drawn or do you use a program on the computer?

 I start off the dolls by hand drawing very rough pencil sketches which I then scan into my computer. Usually, the first sketch is far from perfect so I scribble several notes on what needs to be adjusted on the computer (i.e. slight pose changes, and proportions.) After I scan them I start using a program called PaintShopPro 9, which is essentially a less expensive Photoshop. I also use a Wacom Bambo Create pen tablet to more easily draw and color on the computer.

5. What other types of artistic work do you do?

 Almost all of the art work I do is done digitally. But I am always sketching ideas in my sketchbook and even on receipt paper from where I work…they don’t like that too much…ha ha I love to draw people! Whether it is a Disney character, someone I know, or just someone I thought of. My goal when I draw a character is to convey an emotion, from the eyes and facial features, to the pose and gestures. I feel like I have done good work if someone looks at a piece of art I’ve done and they feel something.

6. What advice do you have for kids who are interested in becoming artists one day?

Explore the world around you! Find what interests you, draw it, and study it. Draw what you see and how you see it. Make the world your own! I’ve found that another good way to learn about art is to look at other artists’ work. Study their technique, ask questions like “why did they draw that expression?” or “why did they use that color?” Let them inspire you, but find your own artistic voice and style.

7. If someone wanted to purchase a set of your paper dolls, or commission some work, where could they go?

 I don’t yet have paper dolls available for sale, nor am I currently taking commissions, but when I do the information will be available on my Facebook page.

I want to wish Cory the best of luck for his future and thank him for the hours of fun that my daughters had with his creations.  I know that he will go far!

  • Do you ever do paper crafts (or Paper dolls) with your kids?
  • What are your favorites?
  • When I was young, my brother had a set of Cowboy and Indian paper villages.  Any other great ideas for boys?
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Book Review : Fanny, by Holly Hobbie

I fell in love with this book, about a little girl (Fanny) who wants a “Connie” Doll – (they’re all the rage) but her Mom says, “absolutely no!”  Which prompts Fannie to make her own doll.  Then her Mom gets her a sewing machine for her birthday and she makes a bunch of clothes for her doll,  Annabelle.  The heroine is inventive and ingenious, despite the fact that her friends don’t understand why she doesn’t have dolls like theirs or why she got a weird sewing machine present.

I love that it teaches creativity and a mother’s belief in her daughter.

When I was young, for whatever reason, my mother believed in me.  She would ask me to be creative and have me do all sorts of things for the family: from decorations for the holidays, to writing plays, to costumes.  She encouraged me and helped me to believe that what I did was special and unique.  The work was always flawed, but her belief in me was genuine.

Perhaps that’s why this book resonated so much with me.  To tell you the truth, the story-line that I gave you was only a small part of

the book, but it was the part that I empathized with.

I think that it is so important as a parent to find out what our children are interested in, or have a natural talent for and do what we can to help them naturally succeed at it.  Not by pushing them or coercing them, but allowing them to have opportunities to develop their gifts and talents and giving them support and encouragement along the way.

Interestingly enough, Holly Hobbie, the author also wrote the Toot and Puddle series, and did the Holly Hobbie series  that was so popular when I was a child.

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Scarlet O’Hara & Christmas Ideas

My three and a half year old daughter has suddenly discovered the world of Barbie Dolls.  She wants to play with them all of the time.  The problem is, I can’t seem to find a lot of clothes for her dolls, and the ones that I do find are cheaply made and thus on the verge of falling apart, or really trashy (Barbie looks like a woman that I would never have my girl hang out with).  I remembered back to my childhood.  My grandmother had some Barbies that her girls had used.  They had made homemade outfits –  a lot of beautiful 1950’s poodle skirts and other outfits from the day. The dress that I loved the most, the one that I have the greatest memory of was a Scarlett O’Hara dress from Gone with the Wind.  It was GORGEOUS, complete with a hat.  Well, it left quite an impression on me.  I LOVED dressing the dolls up in those lovely outfits and wished that I had them at home. 

So, this Christmas, some friends and I are going to make Barbie dresses – big, beautiful, period dresses.  I scoured the Internet looking for patterns and realized that I wouldn’t even need to spend oodles on material.  I have quite a few lovely dress-up dresses that cannot be salvaged as a little girl dress, but will be perfect for a little girl’s dolls.